Reign FC concluded their four straight matches on the road with a trip to Cary, North Carolina to take on the defending NWSL champions, North Carolina Courage. While Reign FC took the first one earlier this season on Memorial Day with a 2-1 victory at Cheney Stadium, the defending champs took round two of the season series with a 2-0 win.
Head coach Vlatko Andonovski ran with the same starting eleven he had last Friday at Portland Thorns. Both sides had their feeling out process, hoping to establish their pace early on.
The hosts struck first with a goal in the 22nd minute. After Reign FC’s Bev Yanez had a great look on North Carolina’s goal, but her shot having too much on it and going high, North Carolina stuck in the blink of an eye. The goal was the fifth on the season for North Carolina’s Lynn Williams.
It’s a song Reign FC fans are tired of having on the playlist, but once again, injuries were part of the first half storyline as both Shea Groom (ankle) and Bev Yanez (head) had to check out early due to injuries. Hopefully, the team being on a bye next week will provide enough time for them and the rest of the squad to heal up and be available for selection in the next match.
In stoppage time, Reign FC had their best chance to get an equalizer as defender Steph Catley fired an absolute rocket that was going into the back of the net if it weren’t for that crossbar being in the way.
Before the second half started, Reign FC used their final sub, replacing Celia Jiménez Delgado with Kristen McNabb. For McNabb, it was her first match in a month after sustaining a calf injury in the June 2 match against Houston Dash. The second half was all about the defending NWSL champions continuing their dominance. When they score first, they do not lose. Unfortunately, Reign FC were on the business end of their ability to own the ball.
North Carolina claimed their second goal in the 55th minute when defender Merritt Mathias sent in a cross to the far side of the box and midfielder Debinha flew in, hitting it on the volley.
The chances Reign FC had with the ball, let alone to put a shot on target, were few & far between. North Carolina Courage were the better team tonight and that should come as no surprise with them being the defending NWSL champions.
With the result, Reign FC close out their four straight road matches with nine out of a possible twelve points. You’d be hard pressed to find many Reign FC fans unhappy with how that run played out in general, but especially in context of all the injuries and World Cup departures. While there is still plenty of soccer left to be played this season, this run may have been one of the toughest tests the club ever faced.
And at the end of Saturday night, they’re in second place. And getting a couple of World Cup champions back to bolster the squad.
Reign FC are off next weekend and then FINALLY have a match at home. You may have heard a lot of hype going into that one as it’s been dubbed a “World Cup Homecoming.” Reign FC’s World Cup players will be celebrated, including the USWNT and World Cup champions, Megan Rapinoe and Allie Long. Reign FC’s World Cup players should be available for selection as they host the Chicago Red Stars, on Sunday, July 28. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 PM and all signs point to Cheney Stadium being at capacity.